Joe Franklin

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Joe Franklin
Joe Franklin.jpg
Born Joseph Fortgang
(1926-03-09) March 9, 1926 (age 88)
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Occupation Television and radio personality
Years active 1951–present

Joe Franklin (born Joseph Fortgang on March 9, 1926) is an American radio and television personality. From New York City, Franklin is credited with hosting the first television talk show. The show began in 1951 on WJZ-TV (later WABC-TV) and moved to WOR-TV (later WWOR-TV) from 1962 to 1993.[1]

After retiring from the television show, Franklin concentrated on an overnight radio show, playing old records on WOR-AM on Saturday evenings. He currently interviews celebrities on the Bloomberg Radio Network.[2]

An author, Franklin has written 23 books, including Classics of the Silent Screen.[3] His 1995 autobiography Up Late with Joe Franklin[4] chronicles his long career and includes claims that he had dalliances with Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and that Veronica Lake "threw herself at me, but I always refrained."[4] He has appeared as himself in countless films, notably Ghostbusters and Broadway Danny Rose.

Franklin's show was often parodied by Billy Crystal during the 1984–1985 season of Saturday Night Live, a routine that originated by noted guitarist Arlen Roth doing onstage Joe Franklin routines in the 1970s with sax/keyboard player Timmy Capello in his band. Capello later brought the routine to Crystal when he toured with him. Franklin was also a pioneer in promoting products such as Hoffman Beverages and Ginger Ale on the air.[1]

Known as "the king of nostalgia", Franklin's highly rated television and radio shows, especially a cult favorite to cable television viewers and his long-running Memory Lane radio programs, focused on old-time show-business personalities.

Franklin has an encyclopedic knowledge of the music, musicians and singers, the Broadway stage shows, the films and entertainment stars of the first half of the 20th century, and is an acknowledged authority on silent film.

He began his entertainment career at 16 as a record picker for Martin Block's popular Make Believe Ballroom radio program.

Among Franklin's own idols, as he frequently told viewers, were Al Jolson, whom he "followed around" as a teenager in New York, and Eddie Cantor, who eventually began buying jokes from the young Franklin and whose Carnegie Hall show Franklin later produced.

Franklin would delight his audience with trivia about the most obscure entertainers from past generations and equally unknown up-and-comers from the present. His guests ranged from novelty performers such as Tiny Tim and Morris Katz, to popular entertainers Bill Cosby and Captain Lou Albano, to legends Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but also frequently included (sometimes on the same panel) unknown local New York punk bands, self-published authors, "tribute" impersonator lounge singers, and the like, giving the show a surreal atmosphere that was part of its appeal.

Many of today's well known talents such as Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Julia Roberts got their first television exposure on The Joe Franklin Show. Others, notoriously shy of live interviews, made frequent appearances on Franklin's programs: Frank Sinatra, for instance, appeared four times.

Franklin would appear on the very first episode of This American Life giving host Ira Glass advice on how to have a successful show. He was also a guest on an early episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

In addition to his TV talk show, Franklin appeared regularly with Conan O'Brien. He is also seen on The David Letterman Show, Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, and has been mentioned several times on the hit cartoon series The Simpsons.

Producer Richie Ornstein has worked side-by-side with Franklin for decades and was a standard feature on the Joe Franklin Show to interact with guests and to discuss trivia.

Producer Steve Garrin booked and recorded Joe Franklin's celebrity interviews for many years, on both his WOR and WBBR, Bloomberg Radio shows at VideoActive Productions/VoiceWorks® Sound Studios (1991–2010), NYC.

In 1999 Joe Franklin and Steve Garrin partnered with restaurant mogul Dennis Riese to open "Joe Franklin's Memory Lane Restaurant". It continued to operate as Joe Franklin's Comedy Club until February 2010.


  1. ^ a b Hinckley, David (November 26, 1999). "Joe Franklin: Truth in Packaging". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Bloomberg Radio Shows: Bloomberg on the Weekend". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ Franklin, Joe (1983). Classics of the Silent Screen. Lyle Stuart. ISBN 0-8065-0181-2. 
  4. ^ a b Franklin, Joe (1995). Up Late with Joe Franklin: Stories of the Greats, the Near Greats, the Ingrates, the Has-beens, and the Never Weres. New York: Scribner. ISBN 978-0-02-540775-6. 

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